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Talansky enjoying ‘free ride’ through Vuelta

LOGROÑO, Spain (VN) — Andrew Talansky (Garmin-Sharp) is enjoying his pressure-free ride in the Vuelta a España, though he admits to missing being at the sharp end of the action in the Spanish grand tour.

The American came into the Vuelta with one eye already on the 2015 season, with the idea of putting a three-week grand tour into his legs, but his competitive streak can’t be buried that easily.

“I absolutely prefer showing up race-fit, and riding GC, and being up at the front of the race. That’s what I love and enjoy doing,” Talansky told VeloNews. “I knew that I couldn’t do that, so I had to be realistic, and come with different goals.”

Talansky said at the start that he was committed to helping Ryder Hesjedal and Daniel Martin in the GC, and perhaps hunt for a stage if the opportunity arises. The absolute priority was finishing off the 2014 season on a strong note after his disappointing exit from the Tour de France following a pair of crashes.

In fact, for the first time at a grand tour since his Vuelta debut in 2011, Talansky hasn’t had to fight in the trenches every day for GC placing.

The Critérium du Dauphiné champion admits he’s taking a larger view at this Vuelta, leaving the GC battle to teammate Martin and the other top favorites.

“I wasn’t bluffing when I said my only purpose was to ride a grand tour, to get that training in my body, building toward next season,” he said. “When you’re fit, and flying on the bike, you enjoy racing, you enjoy the suffering. [This Vuelta] is a different experience, I look at it as an extended training camp for myself.”

Talansky was injured and fell ill following his emotional Tour exit. He was unable to test his form in the decisive mountains in the Alps and Pyrénées. Rather than throw in the towel in on the season, he decided to race the Vuelta, but with realistic goals.

With Martin poised 11th overall, Garmin-Sharp will be working to push him as high as possible in the GC. Talansky said he might try to win a stage in the final half of the Vuelta if the opportunity presents itself, but said his main priorities are helping Martin, and coming out of the Vuelta stronger for next season.

“We’re here for Dan, and I’m here to get a grand tour in my legs,” Talansky said. “Dan [Martin] limited the losses in the time trial to keep him up there in GC. We’re 11th, and we haven’t hit the real hard mountains yet. This race hasn’t even started yet. We’ve seen little climbs. We haven’t seen any full-on climbing stages, and that’s where Dan will excel.

Talansky said the Vuelta GC is “still wide open” and expects a blistering battle in the four remaining mountaintop stages waiting in northern Spain.

“Contador doesn’t have the strongest team, not with the guys he had at the Tour,” he said. “He has a great team for the flats, we saw that in the day of the crosswinds, but he doesn’t have a team on a big mountain stage that can control the [race] 100 percent. And I think teams will be looking to take advantage of that.”

Worlds, Lombardia on horizon

Talansky also confirmed he will race the road world championships in Ponferrada, Spain, as well as the Giro di Lombardia in Italy to close out his 2014 season.

“Yes, I will be doing worlds, and finish my season at Lombardia. I will race worlds with that in mind,” Talansky confirmed. “I would like to ride the time trial. Given the way I am riding this Vuelta, it builds your engine throughout the race, and a week and a half later, you will have that deep strength that no amount of training can replicate. It will be perfect for a 57km time trial.”

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